Faces of Diversity Award

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion

2019 applications are closed. Winners will be notified early 2019. 

The Faces of Diversity American Dream Award, sponsored by PepsiCo Foodservice is an awards program that raises awareness about the important role restaurants play in providing a ladder of opportunity for millions of Americans to achieve the American Dream.  The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation will honor three individuals from diverse backgrounds who have realized the American dream through hard work and determination. A $2,500 scholarship is also made in the name of each winner to a student pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.”

2018 Faces of Diversity Award Recipients


Anil Yadav

CEO, Yadav Enterprises
Locations in California and Texas
Anil Yadav’s humble beginnings in the United States shaped his character, focused his vision and fostered his work ethic. When he was 17 years old, Yadav emigrated from India to San Fran- cisco, sharing a small house with his parents and his seven siblings.  In 1984, Yadav managed to land his first restaurant job as fry cook in a Jack in the Box.

After several promotions, Yadav would go on to purchase his own Jack in the Box restaurant five years later and is now the largest operator of the brand.

Today, Yadav runs a multi-concept, San Francisco-based company with more than 350 restaurants, including 231 Jack in the Box locations in Northern California  and Texas, 73 TGI Friday’s, 37
Denny’s, 10 El Pollo Locos, nine Corner Bakery Cafes and five Sizzler restaurants.

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George Wasai

General Manager
Legends Hospitality, Dallas, TX
Many famous individuals have passed through the Dallas Cowboys Organization—Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Emmitt Smith come to mind.  Few, however, have earned the love and respect of their colleagues  like George Wasai, director of food and beverage for Legends Hospitality and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Now in his 28th season with the Dallas Cowboys organization, Wasai came to the United States from Ghana with his parents at the age of 14.

Starting his foodservice career as a dishwasher, Wasai worked hard and rose to the management ranks, where he takes great delight in helping others.

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Michaela Mendelsohn

Owner and Chief Executive
Pollo West Corporation, California
After a year-long transition in 2006, Mendelsohn liberated herself and never looked back. In the years since, she founded TransCanWork, a non-profit organization that partners with the California Restaurant Association to create safe spaces for transgender individuals and to help others achieve their full potential. “Over the past five-plus years, we have hired more than 40 transgen- der employees, and 25 percent are on the pathway to management,”  said Mendelsohn.  Trans- CanWork has expanded its efforts to include financial institutions, tech companies, nonprofits and community colleges.
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Read About Past Winners